Iraqi security forces in the Bab al-Jadeed district of Mosul prepared to take full control of the city on Saturday after reporting the defensive lines of the group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are collapsing.
Armoured vehicles and fighters moved through the streets south of the militant group’s final bastion by the Tigris River.
Iraqi state TV reported that “victory” would be announced within hours.
Iraqi commanders say the insurgents have been fighting for each metre with snipers, grenades and suicide bombers, forcing security forces to fight house-to-house in the densely populated maze of narrow alleyways.
“Heroes of the Emergency Rapid Division (ERD) are celebrating the accomplishment of their mission, and God willing, Iraqi men, women and children will return safe to their homes,” said Lt.-Col. Flalah al-Wardani, commander of the 1st Brigade of the elite Iraqi force.
Earlier on Saturday, the forces freed a group of women and children trapped in the Midan district of the Old City, moving them to the Khalid Ibn al-Walid district, which is under the control of ERD troops.
Dozens of insurgents were killed on Saturday, and others tried to escape by swimming across the river, state TV said.
Months of urban warfare has displaced 900,000 people, about half the city’s pre-war population, and killed thousands, according to aid organizations.
ISIS captured Mosul in northern Iraq in a matter of days when it swept across northern and central Iraq in the summer of 2014.
Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition launched a major operation to retake the city in October 2016.